By Craig Majka, AINS, AIC
McNeil & Company
It’s been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. All emergency service organizations have tasks that need to be handled every year. A vital but sometimes over-looked annual task is a fleet needs assessment. Having a deliberate, well thought out, comprehensive plan in place to cover any contingency can go a long way towards achieving your organization’s mission. This plan will increase your ability to remain flexible as circumstances change or unexpected events occur. Assessing your fleet involves posing a lot of questions. Since every organization is different in needs, resources and structure, the answers will vary from group to group. Some things to consider:
- What is the overall make-up of the current fleet?
- How effective is the current fleet in addressing the needs of the area or community served? Is there a plan or schedule to cycle the oldest rigs out of the fleet?
- Does the Fire District or Department have a savings plan in place for replacement?
- What other sources of revenue or funding may be available (such as Federal or State grants, low or no interest loans, other governmental contributions)?
- Is acquiring a brand new apparatus economically feasible or needed at this time?
- Are we knowledgeable of what is available in the market?
- What does a new apparatus that meets our needs cost?
- Are there suitable used apparatus in the market that may be good option for us?
- Do we have a rigorous maintenance plan that can reduce downtime and increase the operational life of a unit?
- What would happen if a unit was suddenly out of service?
- Does the insurance value accurately represent the replacement cost?
- Do regulations mandate our fleet make up?
There is a lot to consider. Since it can be a complicated picture with numerous parties and lots of moving parts, there is no one set way to approach this and there may not always be a single plan that would work well. The plan should strive for the best outcomes, but have backup plans set for worst case scenarios.
This process can come into sharp focus when a loss occurs. The benefit of having a plan set ahead of time is that it gives the organization time to do research, consider options and roundtable the ideas to come to a general consensus within your organization. An important aspect of this equation is the apparatus agreed values designated on your insurance policy.
Starting the evaluation a few months before the insurance renewal period can be useful so you are ready to discuss any modifications with your agent at renewal.
Take advantage of the experience and resources of your insurance company along with your local insurance professional, fleet managers, and others available to you who can give valuable input. You’ll be rewarded with the knowledge that your apparatus are properly insured and the peace of mind of having a solid plan in place.